As Head of Ecosystem Programs at Redis Labs, I engage with emerging technologies and open source projects regularly. Recently, I volunteered to staff the Cloud Foundry booth for a few hours on July 18th at OSCON in Portland. I’ve learned a lot over the years by listening to users’ questions and concerns, and this week was no exception. One particular exchange, with a platform engineer from a large pharmaceutical company, reminded me of why Cloud Foundry is the right platform for so many large companies and individuals too. In this post, I’ll share our short exchange. For the purpose of anonymity, I’ll call him “Phil,” as in “Pharma Phil.”
Phil walked right up to the booth and asked, “What is Cloud Foundry?” Basic questions like this are common at tech conferences, no matter what the open source project. Cloud Foundry Foundation Director of Digital Strategy, Melissa Logan, was first to reply “Cloud Foundry is a developer platform that speeds up the development lifecycle,” and Phil responded, “You mean like Heroku?” Both of us responded with an enthusiastic “Yes!” and then looked at each other with a smile.
It seems so trite to compare Cloud Foundry to Heroku because Cloud Foundry has such an enterprise focus while traditional Heroku made its reputation for its success with startups. But just as Heroku is known for simplifying the deployment of apps on the public cloud, Cloud Foundry has brought down the barriers to deploy applications to the enterprise cloud. So the comparison is well warranted–but it doesn’t stop there.
Phil explained that his department was looking to build a platform for multiple teams of developers to use, and that there were many departments across the company. I added that Cloud Foundry is a good fit because it’s not just a platform for one application, but an entire cloud that multiple teams and even departments could use to deploy applications.
Another similarity between Heroku and Cloud Foundry is the availability of Service Brokers. The service broker model is so popular for Cloud Foundry, the Foundation has spun it off as its own open source project called the Open Service Broker API. At Redis Labs, we’ve used OSBAPI to create our Redis Enterprise Service Broker for the VMware Cloud Foundry Application Runtime and we are in the process of updating it for the VMware’s Container Runtime called PKS. In fact, there are so many services available now that the Cloud Foundry Foundation created The Foundry, a Service catalog with search engine on their website.
I could tell that Phil was really impressed with the Heroku analogy, so I continued to explain that just as with Heroku’s “git push heroku” you could “cf push” with Cloud Foundry and your code would deploy, just like magic. Melissa added that there were several Cloud Foundry service providers to choose from and Phil said he’d known about IBM Cloud (previously called Bluemix) but didn’t know Cloud Foundry was a part of it.
Now Phil was hooked–so much so that he began describing the features he wanted from the platform and those that he would build. That’s when he stopped and said that he wished there was a way to develop applications using server-side Swift, at which point I answered, “You can, there’s even a buildpack for Swift!” I wish I could have captured the delighted look on his face.
We chatted with many visitors that day. Some asked about the Cloud Foundry Summit. Others asked about new features. But for me, the best questions come from new users who ask big, game-changing questions. Because, if you’ve put in the time, and done the hard work, then you can let the project speak for itself. With Cloud Foundry, the answers always seem to come naturally. And sometimes they even stare back at you with a smile on their face!